Posts Tagged ‘Insects’

Emeralds on Raasay

August 5, 2017

Phil Kirk, visiting from Lancashire, spotted Northern Emerald dragonflies (Somatochlora arctica) near Fearns and said “In addition to the pair we saw at the start of the walk along the coast at Fearns, we did see 3 or 4 other similar looking dragonflies as were driving around the island. They were certainly the right sort of size and colour, and certainly not Golden Ringed or Common Hawkers. So I should think the Northern Emeralds are going to be found elsewhere on Raasay as well.”

This is a first for Raasay. The British Dragonfly Society distribution map shows no records for Skye or Raasay but the NBN Atlas has a 2012 record for Skye by the A87 south of Portree.

These are Phil’s images:

Northern Emerald FemaleNorthern Emerald Raasay 3Northern Emeralds Attempting Mating

Sawfly Larvae

July 23, 2017

If anybody out there can help with these large sawfly larvae, I would be very grateful:

On Juncus acutiflorusOn Oenanthe crocata 2

Initially on Oenanthe crocata (Hemlock Water-dropwort), then on adjacent Juncus acutiflorus (Sharp-flowered Rush).

To Hartaval from the West

July 13, 2017

Yesterday, I parked at Keistle and headed east to record in tetrads NG45R & S. The former had one previous record – for Koenigia islandica (Iceland-purslane) with the comment “Needs checking – based on dots on photocopied map. W end of Beinnn an Lochain”. I found no sign of it there, and indeed no likely looking habitat.

At Keistle there were a few plants of Iris spuria (Blue Iris) in an area where garden rubbish had been disposed of. There were also a couple of these plants in the nearby garden. FWIW, a new VC record.

Iris spuria Keistle

Iris spuria (Blue Iris)

NG45S includes Bealach Hartaval – and the Hartaval summit itself – but only 9 taxa had been recorded previously including Koenigia islandica (Iceland-purslane) and Minuartia sedoides (Cyphel).

The Koenigia islandica was looking its usual magnificent self:


Koenigia islandica

and the Cyphel was all over the place. However, it was easy to add pleasing and/or significant finds to the tetrad such as Draba incana (Hoary Whitlowgrass), Juncus triglumis (Three-flowered Rush), Luzula spicata (Spiked Wood-Rush), Oxyria digyna (Mountain Sorrel), Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort), Poa glauca (Glaucous Meadow-grass), Saussurea alpina (Alpine Saw-wort), Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage), Saxifraga nivalis (Alpine Saxifrage), Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage), Silene acaulis (Moss Campion), Thalictrum alpinum (Alpine Meadow-rue) and Trollius europaeus (Globeflower).

All in all a successful day with tetrad totals raised from 1 dubious to 129 in NG45R and from 9 to 125 in NG45S.

I also  found some new (to me) fungi on Alchemilla glabra (Smooth Lady’s-mantle) (Later: fungus was Coleroa alchemillae), Valeriana officinalis (Common Valerian) (Later: fungus was Ramularia valerianae) and Rumex acetosella (Sheep’s Sorrel), though I think the last is Ramularia pratensis as found on Rumex acetosa (Common Sorrel) (Correct!).

Oh yes, and I managed a reasonable photo of a Small Heath:

Small Heath

Small Heath


July 5, 2017

Today I went with the SWT Skye Region Group to Isay in Loch Bay. We last went there in 2008 – and before that visit there was only one vascular plant record and no bryophyte records. Isay falls into two tetrads NG25D and NG25I. Today I added 26 taxa to the vascular plant list for NG25I bringing the total to 102 and 27 to the list for NG25D bring the total to 193.

Nick was reasonably happy with NG25D but fears NG25I may be the dullest tetrad on Skye bryologically. We may have to go to nearby Mingay and Clett to help. Actually there are the remains of a lime kiln on the east side of Mingay which might augur well for bryophytes and vascular plants. Perhaps a Skye Botany Group excursion next year?

Several quite large areas of Matricaria discoidea (Pineappleweed) were found. These were not there in 2008. They mostly also contained Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-ear) and Gnaphalium uliginosum (Marsh Cudweed). On Skye, these are all typically found in field entrances, waste ground, etc.  It seems likely that Greylag Geese are the cause of these new habitats, probably by a combination of bringing in the seed, fertilisation and grazing. These three species were all new to Isay.

Gnaphalium & Matricaria

Matricaria & Gnaphalium

Carex distans (Distant Sedge) was a first record for NG25, as was Castanea sativa (Sweet Chestnut) – I spotted 4 rather stunted, planted specimens which I obviously missed in 2008.

Castanea 2 LR

Castanea sativa (Sweet Chestnut)

Other things:

Hyacinthoides LR

My last Hyacinthoides of the year?

Sagina subuata & Plantago coronopus LR

Sagina subulata and Plantago coronopus looking a little unusual

Otherwise, I saw my first Meadow Brown butterfly of the year plus Common Blues and Green-veined Whites. And a pair of Great Skuas defending territory. And Grey Seals. And Eider……….

An Extra from Tusdale

July 5, 2017

Seth spotted this Conopid (Thick-headed fly) Physocephala nigra which is a first for Skye. he explained how they catch bumble bees and lay an egg in them in flight. Not good news for the bee.

Physocephala nigra

Physocephala nigra    Photo: S. Gibson

Macleod’s Maidens and Beyond

June 30, 2017
Macleod's Maidens LR

Macleod’s Maidens

It is a fair old walk out to Macleod’s Maidens but Joanna and Julian were determined to get to tetrad NG23I which lies beyond this impressive group of sea stacks. Nick and I joined them on Thursday on what turned out to be the best weather of the week.

Previously there was a single record in the database for NG23I – Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) in 1990.  There was plenty of that:

Silene acaulis LR

Silene acaulis

but also we spotted nearly 50 specimens of Orobanche alba (Thyme Broomrape) and a few Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle):

Overall we recorded 132 taxa which was pretty good going given we could not get down to the shore and there is no woodland or body of fresh water.  Nick recorded over 80 bryophytes, which is unexciting but again pretty good considering the range of habitats.

On the way I spotted Juncus foliosus (Leafy Rush), a first for Skye, though known on Raasay, Rona and Rum.

Juncus foliosus

Juncus foliosus (Leafy Rush)



As well as broader leaves compared with J. bufonius (Toad Rush), J. foliosus has tepals with dark lines either side of the midrib.

It was a great day for insects, with many butterflies and moths

Chminey Sweepers

Chimney Sweepers on Trifolium repens

and I found the rust Melampsora lini growing on Linum catharticum (Fairy Flax).

Melampsora lini

Melampsora lini on Linum catharticum

There was also Nicrophorus vespilloides, the Sexton Beetle with black clubs on its antennae.

Nicrophorus vespilloides

Nicrophorus vespilloides – with added mites

On Friday morning Joanna and Julian joined me for a quick look at the tiny bit of land on Harlosh Point in NG24Q. We found 48 taxa in this tiny coastal strip including Carex distans (Distant Sedge), Cerastium diffusum (Sea Mouse-ear) and Galium verum (Lady’s Bedstraw).


June 27, 2017

Near East Suisnish on Raasay there is a little bit of land in NG5533. I chose not to record this separately for The Flora of Raasay. However, there is a slightly bigger area on the Moll peninsula of Skye that falls in the same tetrad and that is a different habitat, making a visit to the Raasay bit worthwhile in order to achieve a more complete picture of the tetrad. On Sunday I went to NG5535 and added 21 taxa to the tetrad. I also had a look in early April when I added five.

New things this time included Acaena inermis (Spineless Acaena), well-known nearby, and the always-nice-to-see Pinguicula lusitanica (Pale Butterwort).

I have found a lot of different rusts and leaf-mines recently but they do not generally make for interesting images.  However, the moth trap yielded 15 moths of 12 species the other night.

Nearby this ichneumon was on the wall, perhaps attracted by the light.

Ophionid parasitic wasp 1 LR

The moth trap had also attracted large numbers of non-biting midges and yesterday the garden was full of insects including Red Admirals and this Yarrow Plume Moth:

Yarrow Plume

Yarrow Plume

Curiously there are Flame Carpets everywhere at the moment but none ventured into the trap – or if they did, they got out again.

A Week on Muck

June 18, 2017

I have just spent a rather wet and windy week on Muck with the Inverness Botany Group. I decided to record on a monad (1 km square) basis as there are only 13 and none has 100% land. However, it spreads over four 10km squares, three of which have no other land in VC 104. We made over 1,800 records and as well as re-finding old records of many species, we added Carex extensa (Long-bracted Sedge), Carex limosa (Bog-sedge), Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle) and Valeriana officinalis (Common Valerian) to the Muck list.

Fumaria bastardii (Tall Ramping-fumitory), distinguished by its large flowers but small stipules, was a good find with only two previous sites (on Muck and Eigg) in VC104 and no record since 1999.

Fumaria bastardii Muck

Fumaria bastardii (Tall Ramping-fumitory)

Some Myriophyllum in  brackish pools led me to hope for M. spicatum for which there are no accepted records for VC 104, as this is the habitat in which it is found on Coll and Tiree and the Outer Isles.

However, the inflorescence being <3cm and the tip drooping in bud plus the basal whorl of flowers being in leaf-like pinnatisect bracts then others in pectinate bracts, tells me that it is the locally frequent M. alterniflorum.

Muck Myriophyllum 3

We also recorded a number of insects, mammals…..

The Belted Beauty has yet to be recorded on Skye.

Also fungi, some of which are awaiting identification….

Later: Bruce tells me the fungus on Silene flos-cuculi is Septoria lychnidis, or as NBN has it Caryophylloseptoria lychnidis, and that it is found on other members of the genus too.

Back Home

June 8, 2017

Bruce has identified this fungus on our Bay (Laurus nobilis) as Phomopsis lauri, which he says is surprisingly rare.

Laurus nobilis upper lf surface

Phomopsis lauri on Bay

I found this hoverfly in the conservatory which, subject to final inspection, Murdo says is Scaeva selenitica, and “I have found that only four times before, and not since 2012”.

The NBN distribution map looks like this:

Scaeva selenitica map

What one can find without leaving house and garden…..

Skye Botany Group at Staffin

June 4, 2017

Yesterday we went to a coastal area near Staffin and recorded 191 taxa in a previously under-recorded tetrad, NG56D.

The following were new to the 10km square NG56:

Blysmus rufus (Saltmarsh Flat-sedge)
Carex hostiana x lepidocarpa
Eleocharis multicaulis (Many-stalked Spike-rush)
Fraxinus excelsior (Ash) (Planted)
Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid) (But only because older records had not been assigned to what was then a subspecies Gymnadenia conopsea subsp. borealis)
Lemna minor (Common Duckweed)
Luzula multiflora subsp. congesta (Heath Wood-rush)
Saxifraga x urbium (Londonpride) (Roadside, garden throw-out)
Triglochin maritima (Sea Arrowgrass)

and Ribes nigrum (Black Currant) about 2 metres outside the tetrad in NG56C.
We also spotted a number of insects, leaf-mines, leaf-spots and rusts, some of which are still to be determined.